Earlier this week, the Browns extended an offer sheet to Bengals restricted free agent wide receiver Andrew Hawkins and reports indicated that the Bengals planned to match it.
Hawkins has now signed the offer sheet and more details about the structure have come to light. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports that it is a four-year deal worth $13.6 million in total, which is a bit more than originally reported, and that Hawkins stands to make $10.8 million in the first two years of the deal.
That structure was surely concocted to make it difficult for the Bengals to match. The team has five days to match the offer or let Hawkins, who was tendered at the original round level, leave without any compensation in return.
Rapoport’s colleague Albert Breer reports that the Bengals have rethought their initial response to the offer sheet and that the team is now unlikely to match.
If that’s the case, it might mean the end of the Browns’ pursuit of Julian Edelman as Hawkins would take over both the slot duties and a fair chunk of monies devoted to wide receivers in Cleveland. With the Ravens, another rumored Edelman suitor looking like the favorites to land Steve Smith, that could push Edelman back to New England after hitting the open market for the second straight season.